RIP Cal Worthington [Darleen Click]
Most people outside of California are now saying “Cal who?” but for those of us growing up in the 1970’s, Cal Worthington and “his dog Spot” (which was never a dog) was a staple of local tv advertising.
He was 92
Cal Worthington, whose old-time carnival flair built one of the most successful car dealerships west of the Mississippi, has died. He was 92.Tags: Cal worthington
Worthington died Sunday while watching football at his home on the Big W Ranch near Orland, Calif., said his attorney Larry Miles. The cause has not been determined.
Described as a cross between Dale Carnegie and Slim Pickens, Worthington was best known for his wacky television pitches which had him wrestling with a tiger, flying upside down on an airplane wing or riding a killer whale. His sales antics with his “Dog Spot” drove a career that took him from a three-car lot on a patch of Texas dirt to a multi-make dealership empire that grossed billions of dollars and stretched from Southern California to Alaska. [...]
Worthington spoofed the ads for decades, offering customers his “dog, Spot,” who always turned out to be any animal other than a dog. At one time or another, frogs, lizards, grizzly bears, hippos and even elephants played the part of Spot. It was during this time, too, that Worthington aired the famous 26-stanza jingle he’d written himself titled “Go See Cal.”
From the start, Worthington insisted on writing and starring in his own ads. And he believed in the power of repetition. At the height of his success, he spent $12 million to run his commercials 50,000 times a year.
The ads caught the eye of Hollywood, as Worthington made an appearance with a goose on “The Tonight Show.” When the bird soiled Worthington’s suit, host Johnny Carson quipped: “Be glad it wasn’t that elephant sitting on your lap.”
His fame earned him minor parts in the movie “Into the Night” and the television series “The Fall Guy,” where he naturally played a car dealer. The Television Bureau of Advertising called Worthington “probably the best-known car dealer pitchman in television history.”